My goal in the work I do as a health educator is to essentially change one’s limiting beliefs and internal narrative so a process of transformation can occur. Oftentimes there is a great deal of emotional distress that is revealed during this process especially in individuals who struggle with their weight. And if underlying emotional distress is not addressed and resolved properly, efforts to improve health through weight loss are typically futile. In effect, excess weight can be seen as a symptom of a much larger issue.
It is also part of my job to foster the initiation of a healing process. This is based on the idea that the act of in-depth conversation can lead a person to develop new insights about themselves that will eventually lead to a greater state of wellness. And of course, the length of the coaching process varies depending on the amount of emotional distress a person carries. It is never my job to tell a person what to do, but rather to assess their state of readiness for change and help them to make changes if that is what they wish.
I have found that it is almost impossible to restructure thinking patterns when a person feels awful inside. It is also nearly impossible to do this when they feel physically “crappy.” When we feel crappy, we think crappy thoughts, correct?! And we are also more likely to engage in destructive, defeating behaviors like substance abuse or self-soothing behavior like overeating, usually in the form of refined carbohydrates which actually drive depression.
I have written about the importance of mindfulness and meditative practices on this site, using myself as an example to demonstrate how these practices can improve one’s sense of well-being. These techniques are also taught in coaching sessions in order to alleviate stress and create more balance between the physical and emotional self. However, when a person is emotionally distressed, engaging in these techniques may not be advised because they can amplify distressing thoughts and increase feelings of anguish from what I’ve observed.
So, in addition to effective counseling, what is the most important concept in improving wellness and getting to the root cause of emotional distress in many of the people I work with who are overweight?
It is changing what they are eating.
A diet consisting primarily of processed and refined foods not only leads to obesity, heart disease, and inflammatory diseases, but also leads to emotional distress in the form of anxiety, insomnia, and depression. And no amount of meditation can overcome the ill-effects of chips, soda, and fast food!
Our diet is one area where we can make positive changes immediately if we choose to do so. I know there are no quick fixes when it comes to working through trauma and stressful situations that can lead to emotional distress, but the choice in what we put into our mouths is one thing we can control which will positively impact emotional distress fairly quickly. How?
By changing and improving how we physically feel. If we feel better there is improvement in how we think and how we act.
This is best achieved by choosing whole grain carbohydrates instead of refined, focusing on real foods that don’t come in a box, cooking more from scratch, and preparing our meals with tender loving care. When we include love and attention in how and what we eat, we are essentially increasing love within ourselves. If we think of food thoughtfully—as nourishment we truly care about—it has the ability to not only heal our bodies but also our wounded souls.
Embrace your kitchen!
It is the heart of the home where healthful, whole foods can be prepared with love and a healing process can take place. Simply put, when we receive proper nourishment we are better equipped to work on healing other issues in our lives because we feel better. Consequently, the ability to move forward with resolutions for any underlying issues and the efforts in obtaining true lifestyle change including weight loss are greatly improved.
Healthy food is indeed medicine for our bodies and souls. Use it as the key to unlock your own healing process so the achievement of an improved state of wellness can be fully realized.
The kitchen is truly the heart of the home, and it is also at the heart of healing you!
Wishing you the very best in health and happiness,
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